Team: Green, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Hill, Fabio, Mackie, Mbia, Faurlin (Derry), Granero (Wright-Phillips), Taarabt, Cisse (Hoilett)
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Diakite, Traore, Onuoha
Attendance: 50,180 (including 922 R’s fans)
Shola Ameobi came on to the pitch to the sound of boos and left to a standing ovation after his magnificent, curling shot secured a victory that felt like it was worth far more to Newcastle United than just the three points on offer. It condemned Queen’s Park Rangers to their first defeat under Harry Redknapp, who responded by arguing there are far too many players under him who are not worth anything like the money they are paid.
Value for money has not been a feature of owner Tony Fernandes’ time at Loftus Road and Redknapp, who fined Jose Bosingwa two weeks wages – ¬£130,000 – for refusing to be a substitute, cannot believe how much money has, and is, being wasted.
With trips to Manchester United and Arsenal followed by a home game against Everton, Newcastle, who had lost five out of their last six before this win, desperately needed the three points which Ameobi’s goal secured for them.
Newcastle’s supporters were, to be fair to them, not complaining about Ameobi’s arrival as such, but more like expressing their frustration that manager Alan Pardew was sending him on to replace striker Papiss Cisse.
With the game in deadlock and with Newcastle’s No.9 heading a difficult chance just over seconds earlier, surely it was a mistake to take him off when all QPR had on their mind was containment. Ameobi’s first meaningful contribution inside the penalty area was to miss-time his jump trying to head in a cross. The home crowd groaned collectively.
His second, however, was sublime. Receiving the ball from fellow substitute Sylvain Marveaux on the right side of the area, Ameobi feigned to shoot with his stronger right foot, shifted the ball on to his left and in the same fluid movement, perfectly placed a shot beyond QPR goalkeeper Rob Green and into the far corner.
The home support roared in a mix of joy and relief. Pardew wiped the rain off his brow on the touchline. It could so easily have been sweat. “The crowd weren’t particularly pleased with me for taking Papiss off because he is a goalscorer,” Pardew said. “But Shola is a big man who likes the big occasion and I wanted to get him on the pitch. Cisse was a little unlucky because I almost took Demba Ba off instead, but Shola has a calm head and he knows what’s needed here in these types of situations and it was a quality finish.”
Redknapp’s rebuilding of QPR has started from the back and, albeit with little ambition as an attacking side, they defended superbly. Green had one save to make in the first-half, plucking Cheick Tiote’s miss-hit cross out of the air.
In the second, he almost allowed Vurnon Anita’s free kick to sneak in at the near post, but he was well protected on a wet and miserable afternoon by his centre-backs Ryan Nelsen and Clint Hill until Ameobi’s brilliance.
“The two centre-backs gave me absolutely everything,” Redknapp said. “I thought we were going to hang on for a point, but we couldn’t quite see it through. If I could get in a few more like them we’ll be fine, but we’ve got players here earning far too much money for what they are in terms of ability.”
Luke Edwards – The Telegraph